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Garden fire and barbecue safety

  • 24, Jun 2021
  • Read time: 5 mins

Summer has arrived and it’s time to dust off the garden furniture and get the barbecue ready for some summery outdoor entertainment. As we spend more time with family and friends in our gardens, it’s important to consider the danger fire has on our property. 

This guide gives some handy hints to ensure you stay safe and still have fun this summer.

Vegetable kebabs on the barbeque.

General barbecue and fire pit tips

Follow these basic steps when using your barbecue or fire pit:

  • Never leave your barbecue or fire pit unattended
  • Ensure the site is flat and in an open space. Away from your home, shed, plants and trees
  • Keep pets away from the cooking area
  • Don’t let your children play near the fire
  • Don’t place your barbecue or fire pit on a path or where people walk past
  • When toasting food, such as marshmallows or warming yourself by the fire, make sure you keep a safe distance
  • Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies

Caring for your barbecue or fire pit

  • Keep them clean – grease is fuel for fires
  • Don't cook or light indoors, even in a tent
  • Allow your barbecue or fire pit to cool before attempting to move or store it

Bonfires

Check your bonfire:

  • Is well built and sturdy
  • Has only dry material added, to minimise the amount of smoke
  • Doesn’t have household rubbish in it
  • Has no animals hiding inside or nearby

Check:

  • Local laws to ensure you're allowed to have bonfires
  • The fire is thoroughly extinguished before leaving. Cover the fire with soil or water

Don't:

  • Use petrol or paraffin to light the fire
  • Leave the fire unattended
  • Light bonfires near main roads
  • Have a bonfire during dry spells of weather. Dust and smoke can cause breathing difficulties and make driving conditions for motorists difficult

Rather than burning garden waste, why not try composting. It’s better for the environment and your garden!

Disposable barbecues

Disposable barbecues aren’t good for the environment, but if you do use one...

You must: 

  • Not take them indoors, including in a tent
  • Not place on or near a public bench
  • Position on an even surface
  • Place on bricks or paving slabs 
  • Keep away from the house, shed or fences 
  • Leave to cool for several hours and pour water over it 
  • Ensure it is fully extinguished before throwing away

Charcoal barbecues 

For the authentic barbecue experience, the charcoal barbecue is king. For this reason, it's the most popular. But there are few things to consider. 

Use: 

  • Enough charcoal to cover the base, about 5cm (2 inches) 
  • Recognised firelighters or starter fuel 
  • Firelighters or starter fuel sparingly and on cold coals

Never: 

  • Use petrol or paraffin on a charcoal barbecue 
  • Put hot ashes straight in the bin

Gas barbecues 

Gas barbecues are often considered as quicker, cleaner, and easier to control. But there are a few things you need to consider when using one.

These are: 

  • Ensure the controls and cylinder value are turned off before changing the gas 
  • Change the gas cylinder in an open well-ventilated place 
  • Check your gas cylinder for leaks 
  • Turn off the gas cylinder before the barbecue controls – ensures leftover gas is used up
  • Store gas cylinders outside and protect against direct sunlight and frosts.

Top tip 

If you suspect a leak to the cylinder or pipework, brush soapy water around the joints and watch for bubbles. You can tighten to fix the issue but don't overtighten.

Tips for pet safety

Be vigilant with your pets and open fire. Pets are naturally curious animals and it’s important to take care of their safety. Keep an eye on them while the fire is lit or put them indoors to ensure they stay out of harms way.

Don't feed them undercooked scraps or give them bones. Keep firelighters, starter fuel and other barbecue items, such as utensils out of their reach.

Don't leave food, skewers or drinks within your pet’s reach. Many human foods are best avoided by pets and alcohol is a definite no-no. Dispose of your rubbish safely, where your pet cannot get to it.

If the worst should happen

Follow these tips to ensure maximum fun is had outdoors this summer. If someone does get hurt, please call 111 for assistance or for emergencies, dial 999. If your home or any outbuildings are damaged by fire you could make a claim on your home insurance.

Learn more about what’s covered in our home insurance

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